Thursday, September 26, 2013

Overdue Accolades for Champ's Family Bakery Diner (Vegan MoFo 2013)

True, I have blogged about the new and improved diner vibe of what was formerly only a bakery at the Champ's Family Bakery location (Champ's Diner? Champ's?), but I must admit to being embarrassed that the frequency and intensity of my Champ's blogging has not adequately reflected or appropriately conveyed my enjoyment of the restaurant; I've been so busy eating that I haven't gotten around to sharing.

My feelings on the former Champ's bakery space was that it was encouragingly large, disappointingly barren, unintentionally unwelcoming, with too few offerings.  The diner makeover has been astounding- both for use of space and general vibe.

And the menu?  Don't get me started.  It's huge and varied; gotta love a place where you can choose between countless options ranging from authentic comfort food to totally healthy grub.  Long gone are the days where you had to scan a menu for the sole veganizable option; it seems as if there's nothing Champ's can't veganize.  Some of the recent choices by me and mine.

After an unfortunate banh mi from Blossom, I was happy to take foodfeud's solid recommended of Champ's version: banh mi chay: grilled tofu, fresh cucumbers, pickled carrots, daikon, & jalapenos, cilantro, mayo on a hoagie. holler if you want it spicy! (I hollered).

I'll admit that it looks unassuming, but it was actually quite perfect: soft baguette, perfectly pressed and seasoned tofu, expertly pickled veggies, no cilantro (by request), with just the right proportion of mayo and sriracha.  It was WAY better than Lan's IMHO.

This cupcake caught my attention because it's a cupcake it's chocolate it reminded me of a great cupcake from Bakesalery.  The waitress described it to me as a chocolate Boston-creme cupcake, but it was really so much more than that.

Chocolate cupcake, ganache icing, absolutely FILLED with a chocolate pudding/cream hybrid; sorry, Sweet Avenue, but this is how you make a filled cupcake.

I also have a tendency to bring home a couple of things (duh).

For instance, this seemingly simple but totally delicious chocolate-topped, peanut butter rice crispy treat.

And, cookies.  First, an impressively authentic dinery chocolate chip cookie.  And then, a sugar cookie that I was initially on the fence about because it didn't taste like the sugar cookies I generally gravitate to... and then I realized: it tasted (and looked with its yellow tint) like the sprinkled freebies your non-vegan, former self used to snag from the register counter in any diner in America!  Or, was that just me?  In any event, Champ's nailed it again.

Some other dishes I've consumed or watched being consumed as I continue to be impressed by Champ's:

SAG: faux "egg" & soysage ham on a kaiser roll with Daiya cheddar.

All vegan slam: tofu scramble, tempeh bacon, soysage, garlic rosemary potatoes, with a biscuit and salad.

Up close and personal with the garlic rosemary potatoes.

Breakfast Burrito: field roast chorizo sausage, tofu scramble, bell peppers, cheese, chipotle dressing in whole wheat tortilla with home fries, salad

MVG showing off his food photog skillz

Soltero bowl: "field roast" chorizo sausage, sauteed greens, quinoa, onions, mushrooms, mixed bells with garlic rosemary potatoes.

Hot Cubano: grilled ham, melted cheese, pickled jalapenos, pickles, mustard, mayo, on a pressed hero (reminds me of the best cubano ever at Red Bamboo Brooklyn!!)

Kitchen sink salad: mixed greens, kale, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, sprouts, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, bells, avocado & your choice of dressing.

I had a really hard time remembering what this dish was; how appropriate that it is the awesome bowl: quinoa, tofu scramble, sauteed greens, mixed bells with garlic rosemary potatoes, as the friend in the green hoodie is, by name, awesome.

Reuben: grilled seitan, sauerkraut, cheese, Russian dressing on toasted [marble] rye.

And, finally: my favorite thing from Champ's...cereal killer cookiesWith Fruity Pebbles and marshmallows, of course.  There are four pictured here because that was all they had left on this particular day.  So, I said: GIVE ME ALL OF THEM!  Duh.  You have to be quick.

Champ's atmosphere is effortlessly cool and definitely casual, but don't let that and the diner-vibe fool you.  The staff may seem laid-back, but they are friendly, uber-efficient and perpetually hustling.  They can't help it; there's almost always a long wait for a table.  But rather than be too busy to be attentive, they are like super-servers: buzzing around deftly and effectively.  They're happy to answer questions about the menu, substitutions are effortless, and they never rush you (be mindful, though; people are usually waiting).

One final thing to love about Champ's: the tax is already part of the price.  This makes figuring the bill supremely easy and I am always for anything that makes math easy.

Shout-out to fellow MoFo-er Vegan Fatty Boombalatty for beating me to the punch with her Champ's recap earlier this week and for alerting me to the new menu item: spicy tempeh wings!


  1. hopefully their AC works next time I go there...

  2. Champs should seriously hire you as their publicity agent. Great review — you sure made Champs look like a great place to eat. It seems they cover all the bases to make every diner happy. I just have say, though, that ever since I left the East Coast, I haven't seen a proper hoagie roll or kaiser roll. Seeing the kaiser roll made me so happy to know they still exist!

  3. I love Champs! You are so right about the perfect mix of comfort diner food and healthy meals.
    Unfortunately Greg refuses to go with me anymore, and it usually is a little too crowded for my tastes but it's awesome nonetheless.
    The biscuit with the vegan slam looks incredible. And the Reuben!

  4. b- yeah; there was that time when we were all melting into the booth...

    Andrea- it's pretty darn awesome. And nothing like an "egg" sammie on a Kaiser roll.

    foodfeud- WHAT!? That's crazy talk. I don't think Barbara has ever been there; maybe we can make a date for 3. You know, without G since he refuses to go.

  5. Wow! I remember when FF used to blog about Champs. I didn't realize what they had to offer. Alas, I know I'll never get to Brooklyn in my lifetime.

  6. OMG!!! I need to go to Champs! I can't believe I skipped it last year because everything here looks amazing. The choc pb rice krispie cake looks just like my favourite Ms Cupcake treat and I could eat every single one of those breakfasts!


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